A-71366, MARCH 11, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 777

A-71366: Mar 11, 1936

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ARE AVAILABLE FOR REFUNDING ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE AT ANY TIME DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1936 AND THE 3 OR 2 PRIOR FISCAL YEARS SPECIFIED. THE DATE THE PAYMENT WAS RECEIVED BY THE COLLECTOR OF TAXES TO GOVERN. THE FILING OF AN APPLICATION FOR REFUND DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1936 WILL NOT NECESSARILY OBLIGATE THE APPROPRIATION IF PAYMENT OF THE REFUND IS NOT MADE BEFORE JULY 1. AS FOLLOWS: THERE ARE QUOTED BELOW THE PROVISIONS OF THE 1936 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT. OR COLLECTIONS OF ANY CHARACTER HAVE BEEN ERRONEOUSLY COVERED INTO THE TREASURY. WHICH ARE RETURNED TO THE RESPECTIVE PARTIES WHO MAY HAVE PAID THE SAME. YOU WILL NOTE THAT THE APPROPRIATION PROVISOS LIMIT REFUNDS OF SUCH ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE WITHIN THE PAST THREE YEARS ONLY AND IN THE CASE OF REFUNDS OF WATER RENTS.

A-71366, MARCH 11, 1936, 15 COMP. GEN. 777

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA - REFUNDS OF ERRONEOUS COLLECTIONS THE APPROPRIATIONS MADE BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1936, 49 STAT. 341, FOR REFUNDING ERRONEOUS COLLECTIONS OF VARIOUS KINDS MADE BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ARE AVAILABLE FOR REFUNDING ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE AT ANY TIME DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1936 AND THE 3 OR 2 PRIOR FISCAL YEARS SPECIFIED, THE DATE THE PAYMENT WAS RECEIVED BY THE COLLECTOR OF TAXES TO GOVERN, BUT THE FILING OF AN APPLICATION FOR REFUND DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1936 WILL NOT NECESSARILY OBLIGATE THE APPROPRIATION IF PAYMENT OF THE REFUND IS NOT MADE BEFORE JULY 1, 1936.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE PRESIDENT, BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, MARCH 11, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 18, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

THERE ARE QUOTED BELOW THE PROVISIONS OF THE 1936 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT, APPROVED JUNE 14, 1935, ON WHICH THE COMMISSIONERS WOULD APPRECIATE YOUR EARLY CONSIDERATION AND ADVICE:

"TO ENABLE THE COMMISSIONERS, IN ANY CASE WHERE SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS, SCHOOL TUITION CHARGES, PAYMENTS FOR LOST LIBRARY BOOKS, RENTS, FEES, OR COLLECTIONS OF ANY CHARACTER HAVE BEEN ERRONEOUSLY COVERED INTO THE TREASURY, TO REFUND SUCH ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS, WHOLLY OR IN PART, INCLUDING THE REFUNDING OF FEES PAID FOR BUILDING PERMITS AUTHORIZED BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA APPROPRIATION ACT APPROVED MARCH 2, 1911 (36 STAT., P. 967), $4,000: PROVIDED, THAT THIS APPROPRIATION SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR SUCH REFUNDS OF PAYMENTS MADE WITHIN THE PAST THREE YEARS.

"FOR PAYMENTS OF AMOUNTS COLLECTED BY THE DISTRICT ERRONEOUSLY ON ACCOUNT OF TAXES, FINES, FEES, AND SIMILAR CHARGES, WHICH ARE RETURNED TO THE RESPECTIVE PARTIES WHO MAY HAVE PAID THE SAME, $75,000: PROVIDED, THAT THIS APPROPRIATION SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR REFUND OF SUCH ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE WITHIN THE PAST THREE YEARS ONLY.'

"FOR THE REFUNDING OF WATER RENTS AND OTHER WATER CHARGES ERRONEOUSLY PAID IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, TO BE REFUNDED IN THE MANNER PRESCRIBED BY LAW FOR THE REFUNDING OF ERRONEOUSLY PAID TAXES, $3,500: PROVIDED, THAT THIS APPROPRIATION SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR SUCH REFUNDS OF PAYMENTS MADE WITHIN THE PAST TWO YEARS.'

YOU WILL NOTE THAT THE APPROPRIATION PROVISOS LIMIT REFUNDS OF SUCH ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE WITHIN THE PAST THREE YEARS ONLY AND IN THE CASE OF REFUNDS OF WATER RENTS, WITHIN THE PAST TWO YEARS. IN THE PREAMBLE OF THE ACT YOU WILL NOTE THAT APPROPRIATIONS ARE MADE AVAILABLE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1936. CONSEQUENTLY THERE IS FOR CONSIDERATION THE QUESTION AS TO WHETHER THE LIMITATION SHOULD APPLY TO THE DATE OF ACTUAL PAYMENT AND THE APPROPRIATION CONSIDERED AVAILABLE DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1936 FOR PAYMENTS MADE WITHIN THE PAST THREE AND TWO FISCAL YEARS, OR WHETHER THE THREE-YEAR AND TWO-YEAR LIMITATIONS REFER TO THE DATE OF ERRONEOUS PAYMENT, THAT IS, DATE PAYMENT WAS RECEIVED BY THE COLLECTOR OF TAXES, D.C.

WOULD THE 1936 APPROPRIATIONS BE AVAILABLE FOR REFUND OF ALL ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS MADE SUBSEQUENT TO JUNE 30, 1933, OR SHOULD THE LIMITATION BE INTERPRETED TO OPERATE FROM THE DATE ON WHICH THE ERRONEOUS PAYMENT WAS ACTUALLY MADE?

FOR EXAMPLE, A TAX PAYMENT MAY HAVE BEEN MADE FEBRUARY 1, 1933, AND NOT DISCOVERED TO HAVE BEEN ERRONEOUS UNTIL FEBRUARY 2, 1936. WOULD THE 1936 APPROPRIATION BE AVAILABLE FOR REFUND? IF THE DATE OF ACTUAL PAYMENT IS CONSIDERED CONTROLLING, WOULD THE DATE OF FILING APPLICATION FOR A REFUND OPERATE TO STAY THE THREE-YEAR AND TWO-YEAR LIMITATIONS?

FOR EXAMPLE, APPLICATION FOR A REFUND BEING FILED JULY 1, 1935, FOR A REFUND OF ERRONEOUS TAX PAYMENT MADE SEPTEMBER 1, 1932, WOULD THE 1936 APPROPRIATION BE AVAILABLE FOR REFUND AFTER SEPTEMBER 1, 1936?

WILL THE 1936 APPROPRIATION BE AVAILABLE FOR REFUNDS AFTER JULY 1, 1936, AND TWO YEARS THEREAFTER, PROVIDED APPLICATION IS MADE WITHIN THE STATUTORY PERIOD?

IT IS NOTED THAT THE WORD "ONLY" OCCURS IN ONLY ONE OF THE THREE REFUNDING APPROPRIATIONS AND THE REFERENCE TO THE HEARINGS BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE OF HOUSE COMMITTEE ON EXPENDITURES DISCLOSES THAT IT WAS INSERTED AT THE SUGGESTION OF A MEMBER OF THAT COMMITTEE WITHOUT DISCUSSION AND WITH NO APPARENT INTENTION OF MAKING ANY CHANGE IN THE MEANING OF THE PROVISO. ACCORDINGLY, IT IS NOT BELIEVED NECESSARY TO MAKE ANY DISTINCTION IN THE APPLICATION OF THE PROVISOS TO THE THREE REFUNDING APPROPRIATIONS BY REASON OF THAT WORD. AS THESE THREE APPROPRIATIONS ARE ALL DECLARED BY THE TITLE OF THE ACT TO BE FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1936, THE RESPECTIVE PROVISOS REFERRING TO THE PAST 3 YEARS AND THE PAST 2 YEARS WILL BE CONSIDERED AS REFERRING TO THE PAST 3 AND 2 FISCAL YEARS, RESPECTIVELY, AND ACCORDINGLY, THE APPROPRIATIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR REFUNDING ERRONEOUS PAYMENTS WHICH WERE MADE AT ANY TIME DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1936 AND THE 3 AND 2 PRIOR FISCAL YEARS AS THE CASE MAY BE, THE DATE THE ACTUAL PAYMENT WAS RECEIVED BY THE COLLECTOR OF TAXES RATHER THAN THE DATE THE PAYMENT WAS DISCOVERED TO BE ERRONEOUS TO BE THE GOVERNING DATE.

SINCE THE APPROPRIATIONS ARE REFUNDING APPROPRIATIONS AS DISTINGUISHED FROM APPROPRIATIONS MADE FOR THE INCURRING OF OBLIGATIONS, THE FILING OF AN APPLICATION FOR REFUND WILL NOT OBLIGATE THE APPROPRIATION, SO THAT THE FILING OF AN APPLICATION FOR REFUND DURING THE FISCAL YEAR 1936 WILL NOT NECESSARILY OBLIGATE THE APPROPRIATION FOR THAT FISCAL YEAR IF PAYMENT OF THE REFUND IS NOT MADE BEFORE JULY 1, 1936.